Gearbox Software studio head Randy Pitchford has been personally blamed over claims that Aliens: Colonial Marines was falsely advertised at trade shows, in new court documents which hint at a falling out with Sega long before the dispute was made public.
The lawsuit, which was initially filed by plaintiff Damion Perrine, dragged both Gearbox and Sega to court. At the beginning of August, Sega met a tentative settlement agreement for $1.25 million, which left Gearbox in a dangerous position as Sega would have been released from future claims. Gearbox was told that they could be included in the settlement if they agreed to pay an additional $750,000; however, they instead requested to be removed from the lawsuit, highlighting that they were just the software developer and had nothing to do with the advertising of the product nor the final quality of it.
The new documents – filed this week by Sega of America – details exactly why Gearbox Studios is just as susceptible in the case as Sega. Apparently, despite Gearbox’s claims that they weren’t involved in the marketing of the product, they actually participated equally – sometimes even making decisions by themselves and leaving Sega out of the picture.
The motion also notes that the quality of the E3 2011 demo – which many people consider the pinnacle of the misleading advertising – was the standard the final product should have been at, according to emails sent between Sega and Gearbox. Matt Powers, senior producer at Sega of America, wrote to other Sega employees: “During one of my conversations with Gearbox today I verified that the E3 Demo is indeed the bar that we should use to determine where the entire game will be. That is Gearbox’s plan and what they believe in. I just wanted to double-check with them and since I did I figured I would pass that along to you.”
The report also highlights eight incidences where Gearbox made announcements to the public without Sega’s permission, sometimes even after requests not to. An example of this happened once again at E3 2011, with Sega officials noting that Randy Pitchford went far and beyond the prepared question and answer documents that Sega provided. Matt Eyre, the Director of Brand Marketing at Sega, wrote in an email: “I spoke face to face to [Gearbox’s Vice President Steve] Gibson about their persistent panel leaking. Effectively — it’s Randy doing whatever the fuck he likes. Apparently he did it twice on [Borderlands 2] also, against, against all plans and despite the fact they asked him not to.”
The filing also disproves Gearbox’s earlier claims that they never received any payments pertaining to the sales of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Sega apparently paid Gearbox millions of dollars in the form of milestone payments when certain goals were met, such as the completion of a playable demo.
The motion does not however address earlier claims by Gearbox that the company paid millions of its own money to finish the game. The files call for the courts to ignore Gearbox’s request to block the settlement with Sega.
The next hearing will be held on October 29.
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